August 2, 2002
March 3,1945, as taken from-the Oroville Mercury
Lt Wigle Rated High Among Nation's Heroes: His Courageous Acts
Details Told In Citation: Led Men Up Bare, Rocky Slopes To Drive
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life
above and beyond the call of duty," the late Lt. Thomas W. Wigle,
former Oroville musician, Has been awarded posthumously
the Congressional Medal of Honor. By special order of President
Roosevelt, the medal was conferred on Lt. Wigle's widow, Mrs. Margaret
Henry Wigle, Feb. 16 in Detroit, Mich., birthplace of the young
hero. Diana, two-year-old daughter of Lt. and Mrs. Wigle, was with
her mother in the federal courtroom where Maj. Gen. Russel
B. Reynolds made the presentation. Oroville's foremost hero of World
War II and believed to be the only local man ever to receive the
Congressional award, Lt. Wigle was fatally wounded while leading
a successful attack on an enemy position that had impeded his unit's
progress on the Gothic line at Monte Frassino in Italy.
STORY SENT HERE
Details of the heroic acts, for which the nation's highest military
honor was awarded Lt. Wigle, were published in a Detroit
paper that was received here by friends (Dr. and Mrs. C. B. Griggs,
close friends of the young musician while he lived here) of Lt.
Wigle and his family. The story of the 35 year old infantry lieutenant’s
high courage and gallantry was told in the in the following citation;
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life
above and beyond the call of duty in the vicinity of Monte Frassino,
Italy. On 14 September 1944, the 3rd Platoon in attempting to seize
a strongly fortified hill position, protected by three parallel
high terraced stone walls, was twice thrown back by the withering
cross fire of machine guns and intense barrages of mortar and artillery
DREW ENEMY FIRE
“Lt. Wigle, acting company executive, observing that the Platoon
was without an officer, volunteered to command it in the next attack.
Leading his men up the bare rocky slopes through intense and concentrated
fire, he succeeded in reaching the first of the stone walls. Having
himself boosted to the top and perching there in full view of the
enemy, he drew and returned their fire while his men helped each
other up and over.
THROUGH HAIL OF GUNFIRE
"Following the same method he successfully negotiated the second.
Upon reaching the top of the third Wall he faced three houses, which
were the key point of the enemy's defense. Ordering his men to cover
him, he made a dash through a hail of machine pistol fire to reach
the nearest house. Firing his carbine as he entered, he drove the
enemy before him out of the
back door and into the second house. Following closely on the heels
of the foe, he drove them from this house into the third where they
took refuge in the cellar.
"When his men found him they found him mortally wounded on the cellar
stairs which he had started to descend to force the surrender of
the enemy. (He died two days latter) "His heroic action resulted
in the capture of 36 German soldiers and the seizure of the strongpoint.”
Lt. Wigle was the son of Mr. and Mrs. A. Palmer Wigle of Detroit.
He began his study of music at the age of 10. He became a violin
virtuoso playing for five years with the Kansas Symphony under Karl
Krueger, now conductor of the Detroit Symphony. He and Krueger were
close friends. The noted conductor is in possession of one of several
symphonies composed by Lt. Wigle. It is called "Western Saga."
HE HATED WAR
For relaxation from his music studies, Lt. Wigle always liked
to shoot on a rifle range. He never hunted game. He hated war but
after spending three days in the nation's capital viewing historic
documents, monuments and buildings, just before he went overseas,
he wrote to a friend here, "I've decided that this government is
worth fighting for." At Monte Frassino he kept faith with that decision.
The Detroit papers referred to Lt. Wigle as "Detroit's greatest
hero. "'They published his life story with full-page groups of pictures
showing him as a child, a concert violinist and as a soldier. Pictures
of his wife and daughter and of his parents were included. On the
day that Lt. Wigle's widow received the medal awarded her husband,
the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, led by Krueger, dedicated its performance
to the hero.
Above and Beyond, the more research I do the more I find how bravely
the Oroville boys served their country. The Medal of Honor is the
highest honor in battle a person can receive. It is given out very
sparingly. It is sad, growing up in Oroville, I had no knowledge
of what this Oroville man had done. True he was not born here, but
for a while he called Oroville home. We must never forget him.
Additional notes by Stu:
How did we fornget this man over the years. I moved here in 1946
and never heard his name until I read and old Mercury last year.
Lt. Thomas W. Wigle lived in Oroville from 1937 - 1941. He taught
music and made many friends that are now gone. Although Jim Lenhoff
has found one in San Franciso. Also, Gene Harris took violin lessons